Monday, October 31, 2005

Dilemmas in Dressing for Davenning

or: So I Did Flip Out in Israel, After All

This topic usually comes up as a side point to other discussions — Shabbos Attire is usually a good place to go looking for it, as in these two posts on Hirhurim, or this three-part series by MOChassid. Another good topic is Black Hats, such as this post at On The Main Line and this one at the new Orthodox Reflux. There's also a personal story by Jack at The Jewish [Soul] Connection which applies more directly to this topic. There's also a post of RYG"B's that deals with ideals of levush for various (semi-)contemporary Orthodox movements.

If you know of any other blog posts/conversations about it, please link to them in the comments!

So, anyway, this is the deal.

There's a halakhic ideal out there that one should dress for davening — not just on Shabbos, but at all times — as one would dress for an important meeting with someone really important. Back in the day, people would use the example of a King. Now they talk about the President, or going to Court, or having a Job Interview.

I always felt that it was a bit silly. After all, the Creator of Worlds knows me! God knows my conscious and subconscious thoughts — what's the point in treating a conversation with the Omniscient like a job interview? You don't need to impress God, and you most definitely do not want to try to fake God out with fancy clothing or bling.

So for most of my life, I pretty much ignored it when people talked about dressing up for davening. Sure, I eventually stopped davening at home in my pajamas, and wouldn't hhazan or lein in shorts, but that was about it.

Until Israel. Ironically enough, my views on this issue started changing when I was living and learning in the Valley of the Aboriginal Ghosts, Southern Jerusalem — one of the most friendly, comfortable, and informally-attired Jewish cultures I've ever experienced.

I began thinking along the lines of yes, it's absurd to think that you should try to impress God like a prospective boss at a job interview. And I do feel like I have a fairly informal relationship to God, thinking about God more in terms of Heavenly Parent or Ultimate Artist than as King or Master. But God still is the Monarch of the Universe, and just like people dress formally when they meet the President, or some other high government official — not in order to make a certain impression, but due solely to the formality and gravitas of the situation — it does make sense to dress in a formal/respectful/dignified mode (whatever you want to call it) when having a meeting with the Omnipotent.

So around Rosh Hhodesh Elul, around when I moved into my new neighborhood and started my new job, I also started wearing a suit/jacket and tie to weekday minyans. After all, according to the communal norms of the society (both Jewish and general) in which I live, that's the accepted [male] clothing standard for an important meeting with someone very important. Unlike the impression I get from the Hhareidi and Hhareidi-leaning worlds, I do not consider my clothing to be a ritual object. To me, the ideal is to dress 'respectfully' (or whatever), on the whole — not to wear a hat, or wear a jacket, as some specific sacralized article of clothing. I knew a guy a few years ago when I worked in a camp who wore a jacket for davening — over his t-shirt and shorts. That never made sense to me. I also don't understand why, in the words of Rav Asher Balanson, the minhag is not to be "medayek" to that extent. It seems to me that if people were really serious about this ideal (as opposed to not holding by it, as I used to), then they should express it in action. Monochromatic people who talk about jackets and [black] hats seem to be more interested in social and communal consequences of uniformity than in actually putting this ideal into practice. Wouldn't they wear a tie if they had a meeting with the President?

Anyway, the transition was made significantly easier due to the fact that the shul I started going to around here (the only one with an early enough weekday shahhris that I can go to before work) isn't your typical Modern Orthodox shul that embraces a wide variety of observant Jews and their everyday clothing; there's one of those down the street. It's a Yekke shul, with very exacting communal norms of dress and decorum. They expect all men, whether married or not, to adhere to their minhag hamaqom (local custom) and wear a tallis during morning minyan, and they also expect anyone honored with an ‘alíya (and the hhazan, etc.) to wear a tie, jacket, and hat. Now, I don't wear a hat (someone lent me his when I got an ‘alíya) because it's not part of 'dignified dress' in my culture. But the suit/jacket and tie thing makes perfect sense to me. Of course, there's a twist here — according to RYG"B, it's part of their culture/ideology to be dressed in a 'dignified' or 'respectable' manner all the time, a position I respect and understand, but don't agree with.

I've been calling this a "religious experiment" (even if only to prevent a hhazaqa), so here's what passes for 'results' — positive, negative, and neutrally notable — so far:
  • It feels right. This is the ideal, and I'm expressing it in action. I really feel like this is what I'm supposed to be doing... when I'm not having doubts. Or thinking uhm yeah, okay, what's the point? why did i start this again?
  • I'm worried about yuhara. If I believe that I'm adhering to a halakhic ideal, how do I prevent myself from looking judgementally at others, like the monochromats I bashed up above? Or the vast majority of my Modern Orthodox / Dati ‘Olami world? After all, this is a personal hhumra; I'm not telling everyone to go out and copy my wierd quirks!
  • Side-benefit: I've become more comfortable in formal clothing. However, this also makes me worried. What if I'm not doing this for the positive ideal I think I'm representing, but for a negative reason? All my life I've hated dress-shirts, suits/jackets, ties, and dress-shoes. While part of it has to do with proletarian, countercultural tendencies, a big part of it is Sensory Hypersensitivity/Integration issues, and one of the ways that expresses itself in me is in a very strong psychological aversion to buttons. Yes, you heard me. I can't stand the feel of buttons. There's something about the combination of roundness and smoothness that gets its sensation all over my hands and won't go away. This is why I try and buy dress-shirts with fabric that covers the buttons (which unfortunately it's very hard to find in non-white), and why in general I can't wear a 'regular' dress-shirt unless the buttons are covered with something like a sweater or a tie. I'm also an INFP, a personality type that (seemingly accurately, in my case) includes a strong attachment/attraction to that which is seen as 'good' or 'holy' as well as a corresponding pull towards being intrigued with the opposite. So what if this is all about some kind of self-defeating embracing of something I've always seen as bad/aggravating/negative, instead of putting a positive ideal into practice?
  • I no longer feel comfortable davening in less formal clothing. In situations in which I am unable to change, I feel semi-naked, or unprepared. I actually feel the standards of 'this isn't what I should be wearing to my appointment with the Divine'.
  • A big problem is the fact that my work environment is "business casual". Only one co-worker wears a tie or jacket (and very rarely at that), and polo-shirts are normal. This'd all be a lot easier if I could just get dressed for work, and happen to be at the 'proper' level of formality for davening as well. As it is, I have to change when I go between the two places, and the extra clothing takes up valuable space in my bags. And besides that, as yall can see from the pictures of me I've put up, my general mode of being clothes-wise is casual. I wear sweaters and jeans, and t-shirts and sandals or hiking boots. This whole formal clothing thing feels like fakery sometimes.
  • There seems to be someone who agrees with me — according to Micha Berger in this www.hashkafah.com posting, Rav Shlomo Riskin 'required jackets and ties for shacharis (Not hats)' in a high school even. However, this anecdote is the only one I've ever seen about it. There's got to be some kind of reason why more people don't hold this way... am I missing something?
  • Growing up geeky, I developed a strong fear of being seen as weird. This definitely qualifies me as weird. And I'm paranoid of friends, acquaintances or relatives finding out about my change in practice. When I go home to my parents' for Shabbos, I dress for shul as they've always seen me dress — Southern Jerusalem style (dress-shirt [either with covered buttons or a sweater] and slacks; remember, I've always hated suits/ties). How do all those guys who 'flip out' in Israel and come back monochromatic do it? Are they just so sure (or full?) of themselves and their newfound frumkeit that they just don't care what other people think?

Update: Jewish Worker (Bluke) had a short post on this topic here back in May.

50 Comments:

Blogger Gil Student said...

When I was in YU, I used to always wear a tie for davening. But then I decided to just be normal and do what everyone else in my community does.

11/01/2005 1:14 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

Thanks for commenting! That's really interesting... maybe there's just something in the air up in Upper Manhattan that does this to us. ;-) :-P

So would you say that the communal norm of how people actually dress for davenning overrides the idea of any more abstract or specific communal norm (ideal)?

11/01/2005 2:00 PM  
Anonymous Habib of kiwijewpundit said...

I think the concept should relate more to one of derekh eretz, in the sense of behaving with dignity and decorum. Many of the yekkes (especially those of a certain generation), would never have been seen in the street (let alone by an important personage) without jacket, tie and hat. Times have changed.

Tefillah is a daily mitzvah that creates a framework for the rest of the day. In effect, a dress code for tefillot would, indirectly, constitute a dress code for the rest of the day for those who don't have the time/inclination to constantly change clothes. I am not sure that this would be a positive thing.

11/01/2005 2:26 PM  
Blogger Jack's Shack said...

Hi Steg,

I think that it is important to feel comfortable and that there is merit in not drawing undue attention to yourself. If you know in advance that you are going to be davening somewhere in which they dress differently it is reasonable to do something to fit in, but only to a point.

This is my thing, but the bottom line always comes back to my belief that it is not what I wear on the outside but what I wear on the inside that is important.

FWIW, I also think that it is important to be a good role model for your children so there may be times in which you are careful to overdress as opposed to under.

11/01/2005 2:32 PM  
Blogger MC Aryeh said...

I don't think I would wear a suit and tie to meet with the president, but like you, I have come to feel improper if not dressed appropriately for davening. I am fine with buttons, but do have an aversion to suits in general. I feel confined by them.

I don't want to feel comfortable when praying to God, though. It should be a time of heightened awareness. If I treat it as a casual encounter dresswise, I will not achieve that state. At least, that's how it is for me. Draw the line at a tie, though. I can still count on two hands the number of times I have worn a tie in my life - and I'd like to keep it that way!

Spent some time in Brovenders, and only one guy, from the post high schoolers to the kollel wore a jacket during davening.

Good use of the word bling in a non-hip-hop context...

11/01/2005 2:46 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

Habib:

I also see the not-quite-positiveness of a dress code for davening ending up as a dress code for the whole day. Unless someone, those hardcore Yekkes, for instance, believed in such a thing.

Jack:

Drawing undue attention goes both ways, though. If i were to go back to wearing a t-shirt and jeans for minyan — or not even that casual, let's just say the 'business casual' style clothes i wear to work — then i'd be attracting undue attention and/or standing out in the shul that i've been usually going to, where it's all suits and ties (and hats). On the other hand, continuing with this jacket and tie business would involve sticking out at pretty much any other minyan i would ever go to (MO or Hhareidi), except for maybe some random midday minhha minyan in Wall Street or Midtown Manhattan or some other place where people dress like that for work.

A few times in my life my father made me overdress for an occasion, and i felt very uncomfortable with the undue attention i at least assumed i was attracting.

McAryeh:

Very intersting point when it comes to (un)comfortability in the God~Human encounter... while i've held like Jack most of my life, i feel myself leaning more towards your view now.


Of course, the issue of external appearance vs. internals and behavior is very important... not sure whether contemplating it is actually pushing me towards some conclusion or other, though. The internals and the behavior are obviously more important, but what about working on all of it? I'm pretty sure i do believe now that the externals have some kind of effect or value, just not sure how much...

11/01/2005 4:20 PM  
Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

Is it permitted for a psychotherapist to be in yichud with a patient of the opposite sex? See an interesting new teshuva, here.

11/01/2005 5:10 PM  
Anonymous big brother said...

marge you're shameless

11/01/2005 5:30 PM  
Blogger YGB said...

תלמוד ירושלמי מסכת ברכות דף כא/א
תני כל דבר שהוא של צער כל הרוצה לעשות עצמו יחיד עושה. תלמיד חכם עושה ותבוא לו ברכה. וכל דבר שהוא של שבח לא כל הרוצה לעשות עצמו יחיד עושה תלמיד חכם עושה אלא אם כן מינו אותו פרנס על הציבור.

It would seem that this is "davar shel tza'ar" and therefore not subject to yuharah considerations.

11/01/2005 10:40 PM  
Blogger Le cafetier said...

Here are some thoughts about this.

11/02/2005 6:19 AM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

M. Gavriel & Big Brother:

I agree with BB; c'mon, man, have some tact... just commenting with something relevant to the post generally causes people to click on your name, you don't need to be all off-topic and explicit about trying to get readers.

RYGB:

Thanks for the source... But what exactly, then, is the practical definition of davar shel tza‘ar, and how do we know that this counts as tza‘ar?

Le Cafetier:

Cool, i've spawned someone else's post! :-)

So this is how you dress normally, all day, wherever whenever? (When you started, was there) any specific religio-/cultural reason behind it, or just your personal sense of fashion? Is it primarily for shul, and then just by extension the rest of the day, as Habib commented above? Or the expected clothing style of your job?

I definitely agree with you about the strange contortions people go through when their yad tefillin doesn't fit under their jacket. If they're actually worried about the formality ideal, it doesn't make much sense.

R' Gil Student:

By the way, when you wore a tie for davening at YU, was that your own idea or did someone else suggest it?

11/02/2005 9:28 AM  
Anonymous simcha365 said...

By the way, when you wore a tie for davening at YU, was that your own idea or did someone else suggest it?

R. Ahron Soloveichik.

So would you say that the communal norm of how people actually dress for davenning overrides the idea of any more abstract or specific communal norm (ideal)?

No, I'm saying that the normative practice defines the halakhah on such (but not all) issues.

11/02/2005 9:52 AM  
Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

Steg, I'm really sorry. I ask your mechilo.

Thanks for paying my fines.

11/02/2005 9:53 AM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

The Formerly-Anonymous Blogger Formerly Known As Simcha:

Ah, okay interesting. I think i was trying to express more-or-less what you said, "communal norm" being my way of saying "[local] normative practice".

Mar:

No problem, don't worry about it. I realized afterwards that my comment sounded harsher than i meant it. I give you mechilo for that, but i still refuse to give you mechilo for that raw steak on Sukkos! :-P ;-)
And the fines were mine also.

11/02/2005 10:35 AM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

Jewish Worker (Bluke) had a short post on this topichere back in May.

11/02/2005 5:31 PM  
Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

raw steak on Sukkos!

Wha-te, you don-te li-ke carpaccio? If we take RAMBAM's shitta that yayin mevusshal doesn't count as wine, and extend it to meat, perhaps one is not yôtzê the mitzvo of bosor on Yôm Tôv if the meat is cooked or broiled.

:-)

11/02/2005 8:04 PM  
Blogger BZ said...

Back in college, when I would dress like (oddly enough) a college student during the week, I would often wear a tie on Shabbat. Once I started wearing a tie to work every day, it became "work clothes" to me, so I stopped wearing it on Shabbat, to make a distinction from the rest of the week. Sometimes, when Shabbat starts early and there isn't much time to change after work, I'll keep on what I wore to work on Friday but take off my tie.

11/02/2005 10:27 PM  
Anonymous habib of kiwijewpundit said...

BZ:
I am in agreement with you. Wearing a suit and tie is mechubad when you don't wear one to work, but doesn't so much make sense when they are just corporate uniform. Maybe that's when you buy a bekeshe...

Actually, I'd rather find out who R' Ovadiah's tailor is.

11/02/2005 10:44 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

BZ & Habib:

In college, when i still considered suits and ties anathema, i assumed that i would have to wear a suit and tie to work, and planned on therefore dressing Israeli style for Shabbos when i got into the 'real' world.

11/02/2005 11:10 PM  
Blogger ADDeRabbi said...

Steg-
My one comment is what you already hit upon: the issue of dressing formally is to engender a certain awareness on OUR part, not to impress God. If we treat tefillah like a job interview, maybe we'll see it as important as a job interview. I think this is a contemporary manifestation of the age-old issue of employing cultural conventions in worship, beginning with Korbanot, through the matbei'a of the amidah (like you'd address a king - kiss-up, petition, thanks). see the Abarbanel's intro to Vayikra, ve-acamo"l.

11/03/2005 9:25 AM  
Blogger Le cafetier said...

Sorry for the diversion from the topic, but:

Do you know what a redingote is?

A yekkeshe bekeshe!

11/03/2005 10:22 AM  
Anonymous habib of kiwijewpundit said...

btw, Steg, I'm linking to you and MG now.

11/03/2005 12:25 PM  
Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

Cafetier--

Ha! Oser that a jekke should wear a long coat!

11/03/2005 12:39 PM  
Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

Steggie--

You should do a post about how you taught your 9th graders how soft tov ("sov") works.

11/04/2005 10:43 AM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

Oh, c'mon people, keep on topic! This isn't the time for tangents! </teacher>
I'm really interested in what people have to say about this issue (even if it's just 'stop thinking too much'). All issues, actually. So if you've been lurking and not commenting, please do!

11/04/2005 11:34 AM  
Blogger GoldaLeah said...

You feel different about yourself when you dress up. When I started working full-time from home, I had a hard time getting and staying motivated. Then I started dressing like I was going to work, right down to the shoes. Because I had dressed for work, working was easier.

I don't dress modestly all the time. Pants are de rigeur around here. But when I go to services, or even go to the synagogue for a meeting, I "dress up," meaning a long skirt, long sleeved shirt, yadda yadda. It changes how I feel, and I am more conscious of myself -- for me, that's a good thing for davening.

11/04/2005 3:13 PM  
Anonymous habib of kiwijewpundit said...

About hats. I am not a fan of the Borsalino crowd, but I like Spanish-Portuguese esnoga headwear fashion. Homborgs with a little feather in them for the mitpallelim, and silk top hats for the gabbaim. That is a style that Rahmana will listen to.

It's pronounced "kobhang".

11/05/2005 11:35 PM  
Blogger Lipman said...

Habibi, where do you get the bh instead of b in kobhang?

11/06/2005 12:10 PM  
Anonymous habib of kiwijewpundit said...

As far as I am aware, that is standard Spanish-Portuguese pronunciation. Of course, I may be wrong (and my interlocutors may have been a little influenced by surround Ashkenazity).

11/06/2005 12:36 PM  
Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

Habibi, where do you get the bh instead of b in kobhang?

You see, Steg? I told you that many pronunciations of Hebrew, and not just Aram-Soba and some Asian pronunciation, did not distinguish between hard and soft bêth.

11/06/2005 1:23 PM  
Anonymous habib of kiwijewpundit said...

I had thought that the Iberians do not distinguish, but last time I was in a S-P esnoga (yesterday, as it happened), I am certain I distinctly heard a soft beth, although the other characteristics of Iberian Hebrew were present. Maybe globalisation is creeping in.

11/06/2005 2:46 PM  
Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

last time I was in a S-P esnoga (yesterday, as it happened), I am certain I distinctly heard a soft beth

/bh/, or /v/?

11/06/2005 3:45 PM  
Anonymous habib of kiwijewpundit said...

One of the bangalei tefillah was deinitely saying /v/. But he may be a bit assimilated.

11/06/2005 3:51 PM  
Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

"bangalei"? Was he form a Bangalo Kolony? (Adapted from an old joke about "bangagolo u-vizman korev".)

11/06/2005 4:16 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

Ladino distinguishes between B and V. But let's get back to the topic, people! The topic! :-P

11/06/2005 5:13 PM  
Blogger Noyam said...

Steg-

I'm just wondering if the "job interview" analogy is faulty. To suggest that tefillah is an appointment with G-d seems antagonistic to the idea of "shiviti hashem l'negdi tamid." If one worries about dress in the presence of G-d, then one should always dress his or her best.

If the idea of dressing respectfully is personal, like AddeRabbi suggested, then one should be able to wear whatever he or she feels comfortable and respectful in.

The only argument I think that makes sense is the respect for the synagogue as a mikdash me'at. In that sense, as a communal gathering place, the communities sensibilities should govern. However, given the impracticability of having the proper dress for whichever community you happen to be in for Minchah today, maybe we should just stick with the "what feels right to you" thing.

11/08/2005 12:29 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

GoldaLeah:

I agree that clothing definitely can have an affect on people's psyche. I remember one year in college when I had been working every morning for months, and wearing 'business casual' work clothes. One day after i got back to campus, i changed into a t-shirt and jeans and had a euphoric feeling of responsibility-less "being a kid again" as i walked from my dorm to the kosher dining hall.

Noyam:

Thanks for bringing us finally back on topic!
I've always understood shiviti to mean that one should always keep God in mind; davening to me feels more 'there', like an actual meeting with God where communication (mostly one-way, admittedly) takes place. Like the difference between having a portrait of the president in your office vs. actually meeting them and shaking their hand.

If the idea of dressing respectfully is personal, like AddeRabbi suggested, then one should be able to wear whatever he or she feels comfortable and respectful in.
I agree! Not so sure about the importance of comfort, though... i vacillate between Jack's and McAryeh's opinions about that. But remember, i'm not trying to be prescriptive or impose on anyone else here — this is all about me and my change of heart as to what it is that I feel "respectful in".

11/08/2005 12:58 PM  
Blogger Noyam said...

I meant mentally comfortable, as opposed to that "Oh, Crap, people are looking at me. I'm under-dressed. I knew it. I should have worn a shirt," feeling.

11/08/2005 1:15 PM  
Blogger PsychoToddler said...

I don't ever plan to be part of the "hat and jacket" crowd, mainly because I can't see myself wearing a black hat under any normal circumstances. However, I do find myself becoming more conservative as time goes by. I don't wear jeans to shul sunday mornings if I can avoid it.

11/08/2005 8:31 PM  
Blogger Lipman said...

re Shivisi: Yes, one should always dress orderly (the meaning of which is open!), but in shul there's the addition of koved hatoure and koved hatzibber, the reason mentioned for taking a talles if you get any of the mitzves.

But enough on-topic prattle, back to the important things:

Ladino distinguishes between B and V

In initial positions at the beginning of a word and after a juncture, whereas Hebrew distinguishes only in a very limited way between initial b and v (< w). Nevertheless, both have both somehow.

I think Maghrebinian, at least Moroccan pronunciation phonetically has [b], [v] and [w], but uses these indiscriminately (free variants) for בֿ, בּ and ו.

Late Renaissance Italki Hebrew obviously didn't distinguish when German Christians learned Hebrew from them.

11/09/2005 9:12 AM  
Blogger Mar Gavriel said...

but in shul there's the addition of koved hatoure and koved hatzibber

Surely you mean kovez hat(t)oure and kovez ha(t)tzibber, no?

11/09/2005 9:47 AM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

Psychotoddler:

If you got a non-black hat then you wouldn't be part of the "hat and jacket crowd", you'd just be stuck in a fashion timewarp ;-) as many people at the "hat and jacket + tie" shul seem to be. But for whatever reason almost all of them seem to wear specificly black hats on Shabbos. A friend of mine suggested that I could wear my 'tropical-tourist' straw hat when i go there, but i don't think that would go over so well, considering that 1. it's all sweatstained 2. it's "casual" (whatever that means; the guy in the store called it that, very surprised when i described what i was looking for) and 3. it's the winter.
Maybe i'm also just becoming more conservative as i get older, that's another possibility...

11/09/2005 10:31 AM  
Blogger YGB said...

Of course, for most people it is not a davar shel tza'ar to wear specifically dignified clothing for davening - I was referring, I admit somewhat light-heartedly - to your unique case of angst.

KT,
YGB

11/10/2005 12:25 PM  
Blogger Zoe Strickman said...

I just wanted to comment that I felt the same thing you felt -- namely that at one point, davening without proper attire felt wrong. I felt the same thing when I first started keeping to Cholov Yisroel. At one point, regular kosher milk products started to taste like traif. It was the weirdest experience, and it happened on its own.

Secondly, I am impressed with the attention you put into your blog regarding responding to your readers. Very impressive.

11/21/2005 7:15 PM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

Zoe:

I was amazed that i could put myself into a new routine and have anything else feel 'wrong' so quickly... it was only a few weeks later when i started feeling that way.

Thanks! I know how i feel when i comment on someone's blog and don't get a response, and so i try to respond to people who comment on mine.

11/21/2005 7:39 PM  
Anonymous Rachel said...

Thanks for alerting me to this post! This is fascinating stuff.

I live in a rural community where it is standard custom to come to shul in "regular" clothes -- which, at this snowy time of year, often means flannel-lined trousers, heavy boots, and a wool sweater! :-) I try to add a necklace or nice earrings or something a little bit "upscale" for Shabbat, and to coordinate my kippah with what I'm wearing, but we don't tend to dress up here on a regular basis, and I've found that I really like the informality because it makes my time at shul feel like it matches our smalltown life. (For Festivals we do dress up, but that's another matter.)

In my other religious community -- the retreatants at Elat Chayyim -- we tend to dress up for Shabbat in our own way, e.g. everyone wears white, there's a lot of flowing long dresses and suchlike. I enjoy that a lot; I like the way we're all consciously trying to welcome the Shabbat bride with beauty, even though our standards of dressing up probably wouldn't look very fancy in a mainstream shul.

12/14/2005 9:52 AM  
Blogger Zoe Strickman said...

By the way, I finally wrote you a response here why kabbalah says to wear either black or white. Sorry for the delay. -Zoe

2/05/2006 12:47 PM  
Blogger Amishav said...

Thanks for directing me over to this post. I also at one time just hated the idea of wearing formal type clothes- anywhere and at anytime, but now, I really don't feel right unless I'm wearing something decent out in public. I'm not only presenting myself, but people judge me as a Jew as well, so I feel a need to put a good foot forward. I don't know if that has to do with being an INTJ or not...

But I do live in Colordao and I often go out with dress shirt, tie, hiking boots and jeans. I know that must sound odd, but it seems to fit in place where you can get caught in a blizzard in June.

4/25/2006 12:48 AM  
Blogger Steg (dos iz nit der šteg) said...

Rachel:

Cool, interesting! I wanted to try wearing all white for Yom Kippur when i was in Israel, but the only white pants i had were sweatstained karate pants ;-) .

Zoe:

Thanks for the info!

Amishav:

I'm really beginning to think that it has something to do with getting older and the same sort of trend how people's politics get more conservative as they age.
I'm getting quite Yekkefied, actually... i was wearing a tie on Hhol Hamo‘eid Pesahh and went out to do something and felt improperly dressed without a jacket :-P .
When it comes to representing Jews, i think i'd feel more comfortable in more casual clothing — that'd show people that Jews are 'normal'.

4/25/2006 3:53 PM  
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